Will Gov. Corbett Lead a Prison-Reform Effort in Pennsylvania?


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett may represent the state's best chance in a generation to become a prison reform state like Texas, instead of leading the nation in new inmates, says the Harrisburg Patriot-News. Corbett is a law and order governor and former attorney general, he has a Republican-controlled legislature, and a law-and-order Republican senator backing the effort. Enough time has passed to see that reforms in Texas and Michigan have worked.

Even in Pennsylvania, alternative programs have been a success, says Brian Bumbarger of Penn State's Evidence-based Prevention and Intervention Support Center. The problem has not been results, it's been money: state support for these small-scale reform efforts was cut by nearly 90 percent under the Rendell administration. “They struggle along on a patchwork of grants and bake sales and car washes,” says Bumbarger. “We don't need to reinvent the wheel. We just need to find a way to get adequate funding.” At the height of Pennsylvania's investment in evidence-based programs, Corbett oversaw the allocation of funds as chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

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